Collecting Digital Trace Data

Chris Bail, Duke University
SICSS, Day 2


Time Activity
9:00-9:15AM What is digital trace data?
9:15-9:30AM Strengths and weakenesses of digital trace data
9:30-10:00AM Screen-Scraping/Browser-Automation
10:00-10:15AM Break
10:15-11:00PM Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)
11:00-12:00PM Building Apps for Social Science Research
12:00-1:00PM Lunch
2:15-2:30PM Break
2:30-3:30PM Group Exercise
3:30-4:00PM Group Presentations
4:00-5:30PM Guest Lecture by Gary King
6:00PM Dinner



[J]ust as the invention of the telescope revolutionized the study of the heavens, so too by rendering the unmeasurable measurable, the technological revolution in mobile, Web, and Internet communications has the potential to revolutionize our understanding of ourselves and how we interact … . [T]hree hundred years after Alexander Pope argued that the proper study of mankind should lie not in the heavens but in ourselves, we have finally found our telescope. Let the revolution begin.

—Duncan Watts (2011, p. 266)

What is Digital Trace Data?


-Social Media Sites
-Web Search Data
-Blogs/Other Internet Forums
-Adminstrative Data on Websites
-Internet Archive -Digitization of Historical Texts/Archives -Audio-Visual Data

What is Digital Trace Data?